The high dropout cases prompted a discussion in the DT on May 19

Census: Paro recorded the highest census dropout cases among the dzongkhags with more than 240 cases reported as of last year.

Deliberating the issue at the Dzongkhag Tshogdu (DT) last week, Paro’s assistant census officer attributed it to lack of awareness among people on when to update their census, registering their newborns and following up.

Local leaders, however, attributed it to documents that go missing after it is submitted to the dzongkhag administration.

Kuensel could not obtain data from two of the 10 gewogs in Paro.

Among the eight gewogs, Lamgong gewog recorded the highest with about 80 dropout cases followed by Lungnyi gewog with about 70 such cases.

The assistant census officer said that a newborn’s census should be registered between a month and a year after the child is born. He also said that cases of children dropping out from the census has increased drastically over the years, which was also attributed to wrong understanding of census rules and regulations among people.

Reminding DT participants on the importance of a child’s census, he said most Bhutanese tend to be relaxed when it comes to registering their newborns.

“Paro shouldn’t be having such issues as a developed dzongkhag and people should be well informed,” he said, while informing participants that Paro had the highest number of dropout cases in the country.

The assistant census officer also said that people should not rely solely on the gewog and dzongkhag but check whether or not their records have been updated with the gewog and dzongkhag when they visit the gewogs to pay the annual taxes.

“People can now easily verify their census records at the community centres that are there in all the gewogs,” he said.

He also attributed the issue to lack of proper handing-taking procedure among local leaders citing the example of how documents were locked in the drawer of the former Naja mangmi when he resigned instead of handing them to the new mangmi.

Other issues concerning census registration as highlighted by local leaders and the dzongkhag census office were lack of documents when a father refuses to accept a newborn as his own.

In such cases, they said the mothers don’t inform gewog officials but produce documents of other men to register their child in the census. In such cases, officials said issues arise only after a child attains the inheritance age leading to property disputes.

“Even if mothers can’t produce the father, they should inform gewog officials accordingly as a solution would be found,” the assistant census officer said.

A child also leads to social issues among children like depression if they can’t go for higher education as they don’t have citizenship cards, denial of voting rights and employment opportunities.

Paro DT chairman, Lamgong Gup Phub Tshering said that the issue of census dropout was prominent in all the gewogs.

“Once a child or a person drops from the census, it becomes a hassle to re-register them as it follows a lengthy verification process,” he said. “It is important that we prevent the issue before it is too late.”

Some local leaders said dzongkhag officers who misplace the documents should be held accountable.

Tsento Gup Chencho said that the gewogs submit the documents to the dzongkhag from where the documents usually go missing. “Such cases should be verified and investigated,” he said.

Besides, Gup Chencho said that there were issues with community centres that requires rectification such as dates not getting updated in the system.

Wangchang Gup Thinley Dorji said that the drop out issue was prevalent among children as young as three to four years, and as old as 18 years.

“It is necessary to find out where the missing documents go and who is held accountable,” he said. “Issues to do with land and census registration cannot be taken lightly,” he said.

Kinga Dema | Paro